Trump’s Pick for Drug Czar Rep. Marino Withdraws from Consideration After Controversy from Media Reports, Astronomers Announce Observation of Two Neutron Stars Colliding and Creating Gold in Kilonova Explosion, ISIS Loses Raqqa But Victory is Short-Lived as New Conflicts Arise, Terror Attacks in Somalia and Afghanistan, Man Who Rode on School Bus Faces Four Charges and Driver is Removed from Route, and At Least 48 Dead in Puerto Rico and 85% Without Electricity a Month After Hurricane Maria.
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Tuesday, October 17. Ready for news?
President Trump and the White House had nominated Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Mariano (R) to be the drug czar — which is the top official responsible for coordinating federal efforts on drug enforcement —to lead the “war on drugs.”
But Rep. Mariano has withdrawn from consideration this morning — and it is related to controversy from an investigate report by 60 Minutes and Washington Post on Sunday that revealed Rep. Mariano worked with drug companies to push a new law in 2016 that would make it easier for drug companies to ship large amounts of prescriptions — that are very addictive and can easily cause overdoses — to various pharmacy companies or doctors. Those shipments can go to the “wrong hands,” to those who profit from people who are addicted.
The new law made it harder for the DEA to seize those suspicious packages and “shielded” drug companies from immediate action by the DEA.
The investigation also revealed that there were many former top DEA officials who left their jobs to work in the pharmaceutical industry, raising concerns about the companies’ power and control over our government.
All of this is important because there is a serious opioid crisis with tens of thousands dying every year from addiction and overdose.
The report caused several Congressmen to call for Mariano’s withdrawal from consideration for drug czar.
Trump was asked about Mariano yesterday at the White House and he said he would look at the report and take it seriously, because there was a drug problem.
This morning he tweeted that Mariano was withdrawing — and said he was a fine man and a great Congressman.
Now the White House will have to look for another person to take the position. Trump had said he would make a major announcement on the drug crisis next week.
Yesterday astronomers — scientists who study the space — announced they have observed two neutron stars, which are the shrunken cores of dead stars, spinning closer and closer together, finally colliding into each other at the speed of light, causing a massive explosion far, far away in the universe. The explosion is called a “kilonova” and caused gravitational waves — “ripples” in space and time.
Astronomers detected massive gravitational waves on August 17. There was an international effort by different scientists who rushed to look for where it was coming from — and they were able to pinpoint it — a blue then red light, fading away — in the constellation Hydra.
This explosion was from over 100 million years ago, but the light and waves from it reached Earth a few months ago.
The explosion created gold and platinum debris — around 200 Earth-sized masses of pure gold and 500 Earth-sized masses of platinum. It also created uranium, radioactive waste, and caused powerful gamma bursts.
The creation of gold has confirmed scientists’ theories that the gold and platinum on Earth came from previous neutron star collisions. It is now thought that when the Earth was young and forming, a long time ago, asteroids with gold in it from kilonovas impacted it.
Scientists say they have made a big step in understanding the space and the origins of our universe.
In Syria — Kurdish soldiers with the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are backed by the U.S., say they have captured the city of Raqqa, which has been the “capital” of ISIS when they seized control of the city in 2014. The city was known for public beheadings, crucifixions, throwing gay people off buildings, stoning people, and training of child soldiers.
The last battle was at a sports stadium, where ISIS figures converged to make their “last stand” — and they were defeated today. The Pentagon said 85% to 90% of the city has been taken away from ISIS.
ISIS had lost their other big city — Mosul — several months ago and with losing Raqqa, they are no longer a “state” — they are scattered around in small cities and towns and on the internet.
Raqqa is now a city with rubble, from constant war and airstrikes.
It’s not clear what will become of it in the future — whether the Syrian government led by al-Assad will claim it, or if Kurds want control, or previous residents who fled ISIS will come back.
A similar situation happened in Iraq — in the city of Kirkuk. It was once held by ISIS but was liberated this week by the Iraqi military working with Kurdish forces.
When Kirkuk was liberated, both groups turned against each other for control of the city — after a firefight, the Iraqi military seized control of Kirkuk.
So, we might see more conflicts and political fights in Iraq and Syria now that ISIS is fading — who controls those areas?
There were two recent terrorist attacks that killed many people — the first in Somalia and today in Afghanistan.
On Saturday in the capital city of Somalia, there were two massive explosions — the first a massive truck bomb and then a second, smaller bombing. More than 300 people died with many missing. Over 450 people were injured. The bombings flattened buildings in the area, setting cars on fire. The bombing is blamed on al-Shabaab, a terror group affiliated with al Qaeda. It is a very sad time for the country. The U.S. has sent aid to the country.
Today in southern Afghanistan, Taliban fighters killed at least 66 people in two attacks. The first was when they swarmed a police headquarters, killing 19 police officers. Then several hours later, six Taliban fighters dressed like police officers sent a truck and a Humvee full of explosives to break through a police compound, then went inside and fired at police officers and others, killing at least 47. Over 160 were wounded. All the Taliban fighters died.
Two weeks ago there was a viral video of an older man who was holding on the hood of a school bus in Maryland, yelling at the driver to open the door, then signing in ASL to “call the police.”
I received many messages about this and talked about it briefly during last Monday’s LIVE show. I’ll share some updates.
First — many asked if this man, identified as Leverne Doran, was deaf. An article on CBS Baltimore said he has a deaf wife — which means Leverne is hearing but knew signs because of his wife. Leverne is 68 years old and a retired special education teacher.
This happened two Thursdays ago when Leverne, while driving with his wife, saw a plastic bottle thrown at their windshield from the bus. Leverne then apparently got out of his car and tried to stop the bus, telling the driver to open the door. The driver refused and started to drive away, and that’s when Leverne latched on and that’s where the video starts.
Middle-school students in the bus were screaming with some crying and hiding under their seats. The bus driver said he tried to drive towards a police station.
The bus eventually stopped and Leverne walked around and pried the doors open and got into, arguing with the bus driver. An off-duty police officer showed up and separated Leverne from the bus. Officers then arrested him and charged him with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, destruction of property, and obstructing a school bus driver.
Leverne’s lawyer said that he acted appropriately to inform the driver of the thrown bottle and had no choice to cling on when the bus drove forward, and that the bus driver was in the wrong for driving 25 mph with him clinging on.
Baltimore news WBAL 11 reported that the bus driver, “Mr. Tom,” has been reassigned to administrative duties. Some parents disagree with this, saying he protected the kids, and are willing to start a petition to bring the driver back to his normal route.
Updates with Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island last month:
At least 48 people have died from storm, which is a big spike from when President Trump visited the island — at the time there were 16 people confirmed dead.
85% of the island does not have any electricity. This means everything is affected, from basic things like internet access, television, air conditioning, to big public services such as the water supply, sewage treatment, or use of credit cards or ATM machines.
People are dependent on generators, which requires fuel — and there is shortage of the fuel. And those generators are not themselves guaranteed — as the engines might break down over time. It’s a critical situation.
Gov. Rosselló said it is his goal to have electricity back for 95% of the island by the middle of December. He said this is an aggressive goal. Many had predicted it would take several months up to a year for the island to have electricity back to normal. The FEMA has tapped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to lead this effort, and hopefully they can make big strides.
There is also little access to clean water for 30% of Puerto Ricans. CNN has reported that there some wells that are contaminated with dangerous chemicals — but people are still drinking from those wells because there is no other water available.
President Trump has sent mixed messages on Twitter about his support of Puerto Rico recovery — as he has said he would “always be with them” — but also said that he couldn’t keep the FEMA, the military, and first responders there “forever” and said the island’s electricity and infrastructure was a disaster before the hurricanes.
Last Friday House Speaker Paul Ryan visited Puerto Rico and said, “we are all in this with each other for the long haul to make sure that this island survives.”
The FEMA said they’ve sent 19,000 military and civilians to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but there are many who say they are still waiting for help.
That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!